Written by Shamira James
Vanessa Mutesi is a freshman from Rwanda. She is undeclared as a major, but leaning towards computer science. She runs a blog and is going to a be a peer mentor for class of 2023 here at Roanoke College.
“When I came here I was super excited! I just thought to myself ‘this is super exciting, it’s gonna be fun let’s do this!’ It didn’t hit me until my mom was actually leaving. We were by the Roanoke sign taking pictures and then she says ‘Okay, I’ll call you when we get back,’ and I was like ‘Are you really leaving me here?” Then things kind of calmed down and I was fine, but then I started getting homesick.
I had to force myself to find the silver lining because I was just gonna continue to be in this rut of negativity, and then by time spring semester rolled around, it would’ve been bad, so I had to cut it out. I think I made the mistake of calling home every single day so I cut it down to once or twice a week and that made it better. I also started socializing more and getting involved in clubs and that made a huge difference too.”
“So my blog, The Chronicles of Vanessa, is pretty much about me. It’s me, but then I throw in advice about certain experiences I’ve had, it’s like using my life to help people understand certain situations they’re in. In the fall, I was still dealing with the whole transitioning process of being away from home. Then I realized that there were probably so many other people going through the exact same thing, so I thought going public with my writing would give myself and others similar to me a peace of mind. My very first post was about self care because that was something I was getting into so that I could get out of the whole I-don’t-want-to-be-here phase. Then people started reaching out to me and saying how it resonated with them, and I was so happy, and I felt like this was something worth giving my time to. It makes being vulnerable worth it because if people are resonating then that means my message is actually meaning something to someone.”
“When I was in primary school I was bullied, and as a teenager I dealt with depression which is why I got my warrior tattoo. After that, I was like, I’ve dealt with so much negativity in my life, like negativity coming from myself, but what I allow people to do to me. I wanted to change that because I knew what it looked like to live on the darker side, but I wanted to be in a more positive light. I kept pushing. That’s why I push myself to find the better things in a negative situation. I try my best to stay positive and happy.”
“I’m going to be a peer mentor this fall. I remember fall semester, and it’s hard, but I want to do it because I’m bringing a fresh perspective, like for someone leaving home. At some point, it gets a bit deeper because I know homesickness and I know what it feels like. Trust me, believe me, I’m 26 hours away from home without layovers. Often times when people think of my home country, they think of the genocide and it’s something that’s dark, but I’m happy to discuss that with people. Also being able to discuss that with other people, so it’s like being a source of information as well. Peer mentoring is going to be interesting, it’s going to be fun. I hope down the line I’ll be an RA. I feel like it’ll be fun. We will see what goes on.”